The boy scrambled down from the saddle. “Honest?”
“Ain’t you goin’ to say hello to your dad?” queried Cheyenne.
“Sure! Only I was lookin’ at that Luger gun—”
Jimmy shook hands perfunctorily with his father and turned to Bartley, expectancy in his gaze.
Bartley reloaded the gun and handed it to the boy, who straightaway selected the juniper stump and blazed away. Bartley watched him, a sturdy youngster, brown-fisted, blue-eyed, with sandy hair, and dressed in jeans and a rowdy—a miniature cow-puncher, even to his walk.
“Ever shoot one before?” queried Bartley as the boy gave back the pistol.
“Nope. There’s one like it, over to the store in San Andreas. It’s in the window. I never got to look at it right close.”
“Try it again,” said Bartley.
The boy grinned. “I reckon you’re rich?”
“’Cause you got a heap of ca’tridges. They cost money.”
“Never mind. Go ahead and shoot.”
Jimmy blazed away again and ran to see where his bullets had hit the stump. “She’s a pretty fair gun,” he said as he handed it back. “But I reckon I’ll have to stick to my ole twenty-two rifle. She’s gettin’ wore out, but I can hit things with her, yet. I git rabbits.”
“Now, mebby you got time to tell us something about Aunt Jane and Uncle Frank and Dorry,” suggested Cheyenne.
“Why, they’re all right,” said the boy. “Why didn’t you stop by to our place instead of bushin’ way up here?”
Cheyenne hesitated. “I reckon I’ll be comin’ over,” he said finally.
Bartley put the Luger away. The boy turned to his father. Cheyenne’s face expressed happiness, yet Bartley was puzzled. The boy was not what could be termed indifferent in any sense, yet he had taken his father’s presence casually, showing no special interest in their meeting. And why had Cheyenne never mentioned the boy? Bartley surmised that there was some good reason for Cheyenne’s silence on that subject—and because it was obvious that there was a good reason, Bartley accepted the youngster’s presence in a matter-of-fact manner, as though he had known all along that Cheyenne had a son. In fact, Cheyenne had not stopped to think about it at all. If he had, he would have reasoned that Bartley had heard about it. Almost every one in Arizona knew that Cheyenne had been married and had separated from his wife.
“That would be a pretty good gun to git hoss-thieves with,” asserted the boy, still thinking of the Luger.
“What do you know about hoss-thieves?” queried Cheyenne.
“You think I didn’t see you was ridin’ different hosses!” said Jimmy. “Mebby you think I don’t know where Josh and Filaree are.”
“You quit joshin’ your dad,” said Cheyenne.
“I ain’t joshin’ nobody. Ole ‘Clubfoot’ Sneed, over by the re’savation’s got Josh and Filaree. I seen ’em in his corral, yesterday. I was up there, huntin’.”